We all procrastinate sometimes, even if it’s only for something minor. The first definition you find if you google the word procrastination is from Wikipedia:
Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the “last minute” before a deadline.
I don’t know that I like this definition or procrastination or think that it is an all-encompassing or pragmatic definition. They are many reasons why people put off tasks.
For me, the tasks that I do manage to do are not necessarily more or less urgent than the ones that are placed on the proverbial “back burner”. The tasks that are completed are merely the ones I am capable of doing at the time or was in the mood to do. If I had to start categorizing tasks…that is a task!
I would have to decide how to determine the importance of each task and list each tasks and therefore this process would invoice decision making which I hate, therefore creating more stress for me. No thank you! No more lists!
To be clear, with respect to procrastination, I am referring to tasks in my personal life, not at work. Work is a whole other story. At work, I am managing to meet deadlines and there is minimal room for procrastination. I do have to keep a “To Do Chart” so that I know what deadlines are coming up but work is a different environment and my brain and sense of motivation seem to cooperate better in that environment.
At home, I don’t have a complete list of what needs to be done. My mother certainly knows what she would like to me to do (ex. finding room for more presents from the engagement party/bridal showers and reorganizing the kitchen/china cabinet to fit as much in as possible) and has offered her help but I am not in the mood for it. Certain people want to see our wedding photos, but there are close to 1500 of them to sort through and I don’t have the patience to do that and create an album of the ones I am ok with people seeing. And of course, we have to choose the ones we want for our personal wedding album, to print for our parents etc. which means scrutinizing them with the parents again. I want to fix up my bookcases so the new books I purchased are in the categories that my shelves are organized in (because my shelves have categories).
I always believe in being true to myself. I am just not a phony person. If I want to delay a task because I can’t do it at that time, that’s my issue, not anyone else’s and no one else should care about it. Unfortunately, that is not the reality of the situation.
No one wants to be called lazy and I don’t want to have that blamed on my mental illness. I was once very productive and efficient and loved organizing and being busy all the time. The biggest fight with my brain is the “lack of motivation” symptom that happens with depression. It’s not lack of motivation in the sense of someone who is unambitious, it’s something that happens to a person who suffers from depression, where you do not have the will to get out of bed, go take a shower, or do anything. It sounds terrible and can be misunderstood as something intentional.
I think I put off tasks I don’t want to do because 1) The task may make me too tired, 2) The task may cause me to become too hyper, which can end up in hypomania, and 3) The task may cause me to become irritable and agitated. In any scenario, the mood that will prevail is not one I enjoy experiencing. If I had to pick one, I would say #2, because when I am hypomanic I am most productive, but switching from high to low is painful.
I really think that right now I need my own Do Not Disturb sign. Writing the above paragraphs just made my heart rate increase and stirred up angry feelings. Clearly I am agitated and irritable. I know these are classic symptoms of my mood disorder but not everyone understands that. I need to put up a warning sign…. “WARNING: DO NOT APPROACH- IRRITABLE & AGITATED!”
I’m going to go make a sign now….
About Melanie Luxenberg
My name is Melanie Luxenberg and I am finally ready to live openly with mental illness. I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2003, which I still experience. At the same time, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety (which I also still experience), and then briefly experienced Agoraphobia. I have had depression on and off since I was 13 years old. In July 2010 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. Shortly after it was realized that I experienced rapid cycling. I can experience multiple cycles in a week. Despite my diagnosis, I completed a university degree and then a college program. I have always held stable employment, regularly taken my medication and regularly attended my doctor’s appointments. There have been times of hopelessness, but I have always found support from my family, husband and 3 dogs. I am a law clerk, social media/content writer and of course, mental health advocate. My Twitter feed is full of mental health advocacy messages. I hope one day to see the end of stigma towards mental illness, because stigma has to stop!